In an effort to catch up to its needs for classroom and office space, Normandale Community College of Bloomington recently completed its $23 million Partnership Center expansion.
Its completion was commemorated Feb. 7, with occupancy of a portion of the new 76,000-square-foot expansion already underway. The expansion provides 27 classrooms, engineering labs, faculty offices and student gathering space for a campus that has grown significantly in the past decade and now welcomes more than 15,000 students per year, according to President Joe Opatz.
The expansion is named for one of the needs it addresses: the growing demand for educational opportunities beyond the traditional two-year programs offered by community colleges. Normandale works with regional colleges to provide opportunities for students to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from four-year universities without students having to relocate to the physical campus of the four-year school, Opatz explained.
Normandale’s partnership with Minnesota State University, Mankato, for example, allows students to pursue degrees in programs such as engineering and communications through labs and classrooms in Bloomington.
“We’re growing those programs and exploring other opportunities,” Opatz noted.
The completion of the Partnership Center completes a series of projects intended to meet the growing demands of the campus, one of the largest in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. The college previously expanded its Kopp Student Center and built a parking ramp.
With the addition of the Partnership Center on the northwest portion of the campus, the student center becomes more of a central area for the campus, according to Opatz.
“Colleges of this size always need to be planning into the future,” Opatz said.
To that end the college is looking at a renovation of its college services area, known commonly as the main entrance to the campus. The college’s support services are housed in that area, and the area becomes congested when the campus is busy, according to Opatz.
The project will consist primarily of renovating existing space, and the preliminary estimate for the project is $12 million. Design work for the project will begin late this year, with a possible state appropriation for the project in 2014, Opatz noted.
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